Five ways to make estate-planning easier on loved ones
June 26, 2012
While it's unfortunate to think about, your relative is not going to be around forever. If he or she passes away without putting financial affairs in order, his or her final wishes may be difficult to carry out for the surviving members of the family. Even if the senior in your life enjoys robust health and energy, a formal last will and testament can make the care of his or her estate much easier for you and your loved ones down the road. With these five tips, seniors can ease the pain of their passing by ensuring that those they leave behind are well-protected and provided for.
1. Consult with an estate-planning professional. Preparing to break up one's estate can be arduous and emotionally taxing, which is why many seniors seek aid from an estate-planning professional or attorney who can advise him or her of elder rights as well as what distribution options may be best for your family. By involving a professional, you can also guarantee that documents will be fully binding and in accordance with the legal requirements of your state.
2. Review assets. Before formally designating assets to family members, your relative should create a comprehensive list including finances, stock holdings, land deeds and other assets to ensure that his or her will provides a full portrait of his or her economic status. Offer to assist your relative in he or she feels that this will be a big endeavor.
3. Distribution. Your relative may find it difficult to break up his or her estate, and no matter what happens, the decisions that he or she makes should be carefully considered. If he or she has an extensive portfolio of investments or property, this can make decisions harder to make, but your relative should be confident in his or her choice. It is also vital that your relative determine who will receive financial and medical power of attorney over them in the event of an emergency.
If your relative's health is fast declining and no decision has been made, you may feel more anxious about what the future holds. With a medical alarm system by Bay Alarm, you'll rest easily knowing that your relative can reach out to emergency staff in the event of an accident if you or other family members are not around.
4. Keep important papers safe and organized. The grieving process can be debilitating for many families – if your relative's important documents are nowhere to be seen, it can compound the sadness and frustration that you and your kin feel over the loss. To prevent this, urge your relative to keep his or her documents in a place that is secure but also accessible.
5. Review wills annually. Families can change each year with new marriages, births and unfortunately even deaths. Seniors should try to reflect these changes in their wills whenever possible by reviewing the documents annually and updating them when need be. If your relative prefers his or her will to remain untouched, there's certainly nothing wrong with that, but an oft-revised will can be a way for a senior to ensure that the whole family is provided for after he or she is no longer around.